HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016)

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Supernatural thriller is a familiar one, but is well made enough to keep one moderately entertained. Story has a couple, Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Michael (Jeremy Sisto), moving to India to base their rare antiquities business. We pick up the story years later where the couple have had two children, Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) and Oliver (Logan Creran) and a horrible car accident put Maria in a position to save only one of them, Lucy…a decision that haunts her continually. Their Indian housekeeper (Suchitra Pillai-Malik) tells Maria of an ancient temple where one can go to speak one last time to the dead. She also warns Maria that no matter what Oliver says, she must not open the temple door to let him in…so, guess what Maria does and guess what happens.

Directed by Johannes Roberts, who co-wrote with Ernest Riera, this is an awfully familiar story filled with the typical clichés that go with such a tale. We have a heartbroken parent, or parents, dabbling in the supernatural to speak or see their lost child one more time and given an exact set of rules to follow…which they break. We saw it in Pet Sematary and even more recently in Wake Wood and it’s the same story with the same results. Johannes Roberts does direct the tale well and does give it some atmosphere, especially making good use of the exotic India locations and folklore. This keeps the film from being dull and even provides some legitimately spooky moments to keep us entertained. It is ultimately routine and forgettable, but to a degree does work well enough considering how often we’ve seen this scenario played out. The FX are solid and seem to use prosthetics often and the overall production looks good with some spooky cinematography by Maxime Alexandre (Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac remake) and an equally atmospheric score by Joseph Bishara.

It’s got a good cast, too. Lead Callies is very sympathetic as Maria. She strongly portrays the woman’s guilt over having to make a choice between her children and the pain it puts her through every day. It also makes us tolerant of her acceptance of Oliver’s returned spirit, even when it starts to reveal itself as malevolent. Jeremy Sisto is likable as Michael and is a husband pained to see his wife in such torment. He creates a man trying to keep his family together and be strong for them, yet obviously not sure what to do when his wife begins to believe their son’s spirit has returned and he begins to doubt her sanity. Sofia Rosinsky is surprisingly effective as little Lucy who is the first to feel the presence of Oliver’s spirit, but also the first to feel his wrath. Rounding out is Indian actress Suchitra Pillai-Malik who as Piki provides us with our local folklore exposition and successfully portrays a caring woman who, due to her own life experience, is trying to help the family find peace.

Sure this flick is as familiar, routine and cliché as a mainstream horror can get…but it isn’t all that bad. Director Johannes Roberts gives the film some nice atmosphere, there are a number of spooky scenes, some nicely executed jump scares and a cast that adds a little emotional weight to an oft told story. For a quiet night on the couch and approached with moderate expectations, it’s passes the time without wasting it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 stuffed tigers.

other side of the door rating

 

 

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BARE BONES: PAY THE GHOST and WHISPER

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PAY THE GHOST (2015)

Supernatural thriller takes place in NYC on Halloween with busy dad Mike Lawford (Nicholas Cage) taking his young son Charlie (Jack Fulton) to a local carnival, after getting home too late to take him trick or treating. Charlie mysteriously disappears without a trace while standing right next to Mike and thus begins a year long quest to find out what happened to his son. Mike and his wife Kristen’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) search leads them to believe there is something supernatural involved, that links back to a Celtic legend that started hundreds of years before. As Halloween again approaches, is there any hope of finding Charlie alive?

While Pay The Ghost is actually well directed by Uli Edel and the performances from the cast are also pretty good, the flick is ultimately very routine as these thrillers go and Dan Kay’s script comes to a very hokey conclusion that wraps everything up in a nice little bow. There are some legitimately spooky bits here and there, but they can’t overcome the same tired old plot elements from most recent missing child and haunting flicks and the same old CGI phantoms. Using Celtic lore could have made this interesting, but it is carried out in a very bland and standard manner that could have used any cultural background without making a difference. An OK thriller if there is nothing else to watch and at least Nicholas Cage dialed it back a bit. Also features Stephen McHattie.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WHISPER (2007)

Ho-hum supernatural thriller finds couple Max (Josh Holloway) and Roxanne (Sarah Wayne Callies) participating in a kidnapping of eight year-old David (Blake Woodruff) after being turned down for financing on their dream project of opening a diner…makes sense! The boy turns out to be quite the little demon…literally…and soon Max, Roxanne and their partners (Joel Edgerton and Michael Rooker) find the tables turned on them, as the little monster uses his unnatural powers to off them one by one.

Written by Christopher Borrelli and directed by Stewart Hendler, this is a by-the-numbers ‘bad seed’ movie that is fairly predictable and it’s reveals are really no surprise. There is little suspense, though it is directed competently and the cast are…aside from vet Rooker…destined for better things and do perform well here. Young Woodruff is fairly creepy in the role of David, too and the cinematography is by the legendary Dean Cundey, so the movie looks great. Nothing really to recommend, though there is much worse you could watch and fans of certain cast members, like Callies and Edgerton, may want to see one of their earlier roles.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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-MonsterZero NJ
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